See Hurricane Ian’s damage across Florida in photos, videos and maps

A flooded neighborhood in Fort Myers, Fla., in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian.
A flooded neighborhood in Fort Myers, Fla., in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian. (Ricardo Arduengo/AFP via Getty Images)

Hurricanes and hurricane scares are part of life for the millions who call Florida’s precarious paradise home. But when Hurricane Ian walloped the state this week, its brute power caught many off-guard.

The scope of the devastation was only beginning to come into view days after Ian slammed into the peninsula as a Category 4 hurricane. Punishing winds and waters left a trail of destruction on the southwest coast and into central Florida, flooding streets and homes and knocking out power.

Flood levels

0

5

10 feet

N

More than 83,000

buildings were affected

by flooding in the western

coastline of Florida

Pine

Island

Sound

Pine

Island

Cape

Coral

Captiva

Fort

Myers

Collapsed

causeway

Sanibel

Island

Fort Myers

Beach

Estero

Island

Bonita Springs

Gulf

of Mexico

Fla.

Detail

North Naples

At least 6 feet of

storm surge flooding

was observed in

parts of Naples

Naples

5 MILES

Keewaydin

Island

Rookery

Bay

In Marco Island alone,

more than 5,000

buildings were affected

by the flood

Marco

Island

Goodland

Data as of 1 p.m. Eastern Sept. 29

Source: Analysis by ICEYE

JÚLIA LEDUR/THE WASHINGTON POST

Flood levels

0

5

10 feet

N

More than 83,000

buildings were affected

by flooding in the western

coastline of Florida

Pine

Island

Pine

Island

Sound

Damaged

bridge

Cape Coral

Fort Myers

Captiva

Collapsed

causeway

Sanibel

Island

Fort Myers

Beach

Estero

Island

Estero

Bonita Springs

Gulf

of Mexico

Fla.

Detail

North Naples

At least 6 feet of

storm surge flooding

was observed in

parts of Naples

Naples

5 MILES

Keewaydin

Island

Rookery

Bay

In Marco Island alone,

more than 5,000 buildings

were affected by the flood

Marco

Island

Goodland

Data as of 1 p.m. Eastern Sept. 29

Source: Analysis by ICEYE

JÚLIA LEDUR/THE WASHINGTON POST

Flood levels

N

Fla.

0

5

10 feet

Detail

More than 83,000 buildings

were affected by flooding

in the western coastline of Florida

Pine

Island

Damaged

bridge

Pine Island

Sound

Caloosahatchee R.

Fort

Myers

Cape Coral

Captiva

Collapsed

causeway

Punta

Rassa

Sanibel

Island

San

Carlos

Bay

Sanibel

Fort Myers

Beach

Estero

Island

Estero

Gulf

of Mexico

Bonita Springs

North Naples

Naples

At least 6 feet of storm surge

flooding was observed

in parts of Naples

5 MILES

Keewaydin

Island

Rookery

Bay

Picayune Strand

State Forest

Collier-Seminole

State Park

Marco

Island

In Marco Island alone,

more than 5,000 buildings

were affected by the flood

Goodland

Data as of 1 p.m. Eastern Sept. 29

Source: Analysis by ICEYE

JÚLIA LEDUR/THE WASHINGTON POST

Flood levels

N

Fla.

0

5

10 feet

Detail

More than 83,000 buildings

were affected by flooding

in the western coastline of Florida

Pine

Island

Damaged

bridge

Pine Island

Sound

Caloosahatchee River

Fort Myers

Cape Coral

Captiva

Collapsed

causeway

Punta

Rassa

Sanibel

Island

San Carlos

Bay

Sanibel

Fort Myers

Beach

Estero

Island

Estero

Gulf

of Mexico

Bonita Springs

North Naples

Naples

At least 6 feet of storm surge

flooding was observed

in parts of Naples

5 MILES

Keewaydin

Island

Rookery

Bay

Picayune Strand

State Forest

Collier-Seminole

State Park

Marco

Island

In Marco Island alone,

more than 5,000 buildings

were affected by the flood

Goodland

Data as of 1 p.m. Eastern Sept. 29

Source: Analysis by ICEYE

JÚLIA LEDUR/THE WASHINGTON POST

Hardest hit was the southwestern part of the state, where Ian made landfall Wednesday afternoon. A chunk of the Sanibel Causeway collapsed into the sea, severing access to a once-serene island rocked by what Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) described as “biblical storm surge.” Parts of low-key tourist town Fort Myers Beach appeared to be demolished.

Explore aerial images of Hurricane Ian’s damage to the Florida coast

The death toll was yet to be determined. As of Friday, state officials said they were investigating 21 deaths, though just one had been confirmed as storm-related. After more than 700 rescues, search efforts remained underway.

Hurricane Ian’s impact, DeSantis said, is “historic.”

Drone video taken on Sept. 29, shows the damage and flooding in Port Charlotte, Fla., following Hurricane Ian. (Video: Brian Emfinger/Live Storms Media)

“You’re looking at a storm that’s changed the character of a significant part of our state,” the governor said during a Thursday briefing in Tallahassee. “This is going to require not just the emergency response now, and the days or weeks ahead; I mean, this is going to require years of effort, to be able to rebuild, to come back.”

President Biden declared it “an American crisis.”

As the storm emerged as a threat to Florida in late September, forecasts initially had it headed for the Tampa Bay area. Residents fled low-lying coastal areas under mandatory evacuation orders as the region braced for the potential of catastrophic flooding.

Raymond Oubichon, a retired entertainer from New Orleans, left his South Tampa home before sunrise Tuesday. He said he did not want to take his chances in the Tampa Bay area, even if avoiding it meant paying for an overpriced hotel room on his credit card.

“I don’t want to max it out already, but also, I don’t want to die,” Oubichon said. “So here we are.”

By later that day, though, the projected track had veered south. Ian ultimately cut through the Gulf of Mexico and made landfall around 3 p.m. on the southwest Florida island of Cayo Costa.

Video taken during Hurricane Ian shows heavy winds and flooding hitting Fort Myers, Fla., on Sept. 29 (Video: Max Olson)

The storm poured 10 to 20 inches on a wide stretch of the state as it carved a slow path across the peninsula. Orlando hit a 24-hour rainfall record with 12.49 inches — about twice its monthly average.

48-hour estimated rainfall

As of 3 p.m., Sept. 29

4

8

12

16

20

>24 inches

Tallahassee

Jacksonville

Gainesville

Projected

path

River gauge reporting

major flood stage

Daytona

Beach

Ocala

Gulf of

Mexico

Orlando

Tampa

St. Petersburg

Atlantic

Ocean

Sarasota

Fort Myers

Fort Lauderdale

Naples

Miami

Storm

path

50 MILES

Key West

Source: NOAA and National Weather Service

48-hour estimated rainfall

As of 3 p.m., Sept. 29

4

8

12

16

20

>24 inches

Tallahassee

Jacksonville

Projected

path

Gainesville

River gauge

reporting major

flood stage

Ocala

Orlando

Tampa

Atlantic

Ocean

St. Petersburg

Sarasota

Gulf of

Mexico

Fort Myers

Naples

Miami

Storm

path

Key West

100 MILES

Source: NOAA

48-hour estimated rainfall

As of 3 p.m., Sept. 29

4

8

12

16

20

>24

inches

Tallahassee

Jacksonville

Gainesville

Projected

path

River gauge

reporting

major

flood stage

Ocala

Orlando

Tampa

Atlantic

Ocean

St. Petersburg

Sarasota

Fort Myers

Naples

Storm

path

Miami

Gulf of Mexico

Key

West

100 MILES

Source: NOAA

In the wake of the hurricane’s tear across Florida, swaths of the state were left without power. A day after landfall, more than 2 million consumers lacked electricity.

Communities close to Ian’s furious path were almost entirely in the dark. More than 99 percent of residences and other buildings were without power in south central Florida’s rural Hardee County on Thursday. In Lee County, where the hurricane made landfall, the number was nearly 85 percent; in neighboring Charlotte County, it was 84 percent.

“Lee and Charlotte are basically off the grid at this point,” DeSantis said Thursday.

With Ian came the power outages

Jacksonville

Tallahassee

Orlando

Tampa

Storm path

Miami

Cape

Coral

Without power

0%

100%

Source: Florida Public Service Commission

Jacksonville

Tallahassee

Orlando

Tampa

Storm path

Cape

Coral

Miami

Share without power

0%

100%

Source: Florida Public Service Commission

Jacksonville

Tallahassee

Orlando

Tampa

Cape

Coral

Miami

Storm path

Share without power

0%

100%

Source: Florida Public Service Commission

DANIEL WOLFE/THE WASHINGTON POST

Jacksonville

Tallahassee

Orlando

Tampa

Cape Coral

Miami

Storm path

Share without power

0%

100%

Source: Florida Public Service Commission

DANIEL WOLFE/THE WASHINGTON POST

Crews were on their way to restore power, the governor said, but doing so will take more than “connecting a power line back to a pole.” In some areas, he said, reconnecting is likely to require rebuilding the infrastructure.

Authorities have warned that outages could drag on for days, leaving millions of people in darkness, without air-conditioning, refrigeration or reliable means of communication.

The scenes of destruction are staggering. Homes flooded to their second floors. Entire buildings reduced to heaps of rubble. Yachts launched into city streets. Sections of critical bridges and roadways torn away. Beloved local landmarks, gone.

The worst of it was in coastal southwest Florida communities such as Sanibel. The small island with 6,500 residents was severed from land when the only roadway to the island collapsed.

Cape

Coral

Fort Myers

Detail

Sanibel Island

Before Hurricane Ian

To Punta

Rassa

To Sanibel Island

Sept. 29

1,000 FEET

Cape

Coral

Fort Myers

Detail

Sanibel Island

Sept. 29

Before Hurricane Ian

To Punta

Rassa

1,000 FEET

To Sanibel Island

Cape

Coral

Fort Myers

Detail

Sanibel Island

Before Hurricane Ian

Sept. 29

To Punta

Rassa

1,000 FEET

To Sanibel Island

Just about everywhere Hurricane Ian went, it left ruin. The inland central part of the state was also deluged with water. It was waist-deep in some images out of Orlando. A hospital in Kissimmee was surrounded by so much water, it looked almost like a lake.

The National Hurricane Center called the flooding “catastrophic.”

In Naples, Bill D’Antuono emerged from his aunt and uncle’s canal-front house, where the water went above the countertops and filled the drawers, to find his hometown transformed.

The landmark Naples Pier was torn apart in some sections. Streets were flooded and almost unrecognizable. Boats were everywhere. D’Antuono’s house in the Bayshore area appeared to be flooded beyond repair.

Describing it on Thursday, D’Antuono, a 36-year-old charter boat captain, used words like “annihilated” and “worst-case scenario” and “nightmare.” And “heartbreaking.”

“Everything we knew is different now,” he said.

About this story

Satellite images are from NOAA.

Editing by Christine Armario and Kainaz Amaria. Photo editing by Natalia Jimenez. Video editing by John Farrell. Graphics editing by Tim Meko and Emily Eng. Copy editing by Phil Lueck.

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